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Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking
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Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking on 12/10/2008 17:30:10 MST Print View

"A positive attitude" is indeed essential. It weighs nothing but can be hard to carry nonetheless. I must admit that after a week of rain my positive attitude can waver. And I have been known to head for a bothy at times.

Chuck Shugart
(cshugart) - MLife

Locale: Canadian Prairies
Wet weather cooking in bear country on 12/10/2008 20:04:20 MST Print View

Great article! I've always tried for warm and dry in cold wet weather, and it was good to learn that the concept is more like damp and comfortable and not cold and wet. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned not cooking at all in bear country. I've pretty much given up on cooking when hiking. Something like a pro bar, some jerky, cheese, and dried fruit and lots to drink are all I feel like doing before snuggling in for the night. I know there are benefits to taking in something warm if your cold, but I don't even like to cook at home. Why bother on the trail?

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: Wet weather cooking in bear country on 12/10/2008 23:18:57 MST Print View

Complements from me too on a great article! The complete and prescriptive plan for dealing with challenging conditions makes for a valuable read, and affirms a lot of what I learned the hard way.

I have been eying the SealSkinz WP socks for a long time. Sounds like they would be worth trying. I think they might be part of my snowshoeing gear this winter - if we ever get any snow in Idaho (sigh!).

I for one have occasionally avoided cooking in bear country, as well as other times when I am on short or fast trips and just don't want to hassle with the extra gear. I have also just heated and drank warm water at times when I was concerned about smells but wanted to warm my core. Nowdays there are plenty of suitably palatable cold foods to get me through a night or two. My favorites are also Probars, jerky, and gorp. I find Clif shot bloks to be a tasty treat. I will have to try some hard cheese (good suggestion).

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking on 12/11/2008 01:27:56 MST Print View

I've started carrying a non-cook meal or two, usually something that can be mixed with cold water like hummus or tabouli, for days when a cloudburst hits at dinnertime or, even in clear weather, I'm just too tired to even think about getting out the stove. However, when the temp is close to freezing (32 or 0, depending on what system you're on), a hot meal can do wonders for body and soul!

I'm glad I'm not the only one concerned about the cooking in the sleeping area issue in bear country. The solution, not relying on the sleeping bag for warmth in camp and taking an extra tarp, is definitely heavier, though.

Edited by hikinggranny on 12/11/2008 01:29:07 MST.

John Carter

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Wet weather cooking on 12/11/2008 02:00:57 MST Print View


Here's my method:

1) Set up the tent.
2) Remove rain shells, enter tent and don insulating layers (Cocoon jacket & pants).
3) Boil water under tent awning.
4) Put raingear back on.
5) Walk the pot and boil-in-bag meal a few hundred yards from camp.
6) Add boilng water to meal, seal it up, then return to camp to return pot and get my spork.
7) Dance a jig (optional, to stay warm).
8) Eat my meal in the rain, standing, with my rainsuit on, enjoying the experience.
9) deposit bag in my ziplock trash bag, add this to my food bag, rope up my food bag, and return to camp to put away stove and enter tent.

Obviously, my trick is to use the tent for boiling water only, following the same boil-in-bag technique I use for summer in bear country. The only real change is that I set up the tent and use it to boil water, whereas in summer I wait until after dinner to set up camp.

Edited by jcarter1 on 12/11/2008 02:08:02 MST.

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: Re: Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking on 12/11/2008 05:12:16 MST Print View


Don't be put off by Chris' description of Scottish weather, just check the next time I'll be in Scotland (Oct '09) and the weather'll be fine. Thus far I have spent some 30-odd days in the Scottish hills, divided over three holidays and it has only been raining on about four or five of these days. Do however expect the ground in Scotland to be wet in any season under any weather condition. As Chris will be able to verify last time I visited Scotland the weather was uncannily well (TGO'08).

Secondly, I would like to second the use of the original Buff, which is a piece of gear largely overlooked (IMHO) on the other side of the big pond. For a few years now I never hike without two of them and find them unbelievably useful and multi-functional. In any weather I wear one on my head; in warm weather pirate-style which helps pull moisture from my head, dissipate this over a large area to evaporate and thus helps to cool my head and also protects against UV-light; in very warm weather I even wet my Buff frequently to help the cooling effect; in cold weather I wear my Buff beanie-style and find this is all I need to keep my head warm (I usually do not hike much colder than -5/20). The second Buff is used to pad my gossamer shoulder strap; as covering of my lower face and neck, essentially making a balaclava in combination with the first Buff (worn as beanie); this two Buff system also works well up to about freezing under my hood-less top-bag sleeping bag (Nunatak Ghost) to keep my head warm(-ish).

Furthermore I have used my Buffs to wash and towel off with; altho I haven't, I recon they'd make excellent pre-filters for water; woman (or men) can wear them in various ways to arrange their long hair; as scarf in deserts to keep the dust out and I could even see myself use them as emergency bandages.


EDIT: check out my avatar pic <<==, taken in Scotland just outside Breamar during this years edition of said TGO, looks pretty darn nice the weather doesn't it? And it most certainly was!

Edited by EinsteinX on 12/11/2008 05:15:14 MST.

joe newton

Locale: Bergen, Norway
Re: "Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking" on 12/11/2008 05:57:06 MST Print View


Thank you for a great article. I find many, many interesting articles and fantastic advice here on BPL but sometimes the advice doesn't seem to relate to the cooler, wetter climes of my native England or my current residence here in Bergen, Norway. Your article answered a few questions that I'd had swimming around my head for a while and will save me some expensive mistakes. One other question: your trek through Norway & Sweden, is this documented anywhere as I had plans for a similar adventure next year. Thanks again.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiki on 12/11/2008 07:33:53 MST Print View


Edited by FamilyGuy on 02/23/2015 14:56:43 MST.

Will Rietveld
(WilliWabbit) - MLife

Locale: Southwest Colorado
Gesr for Cold/Wet on 12/11/2008 08:30:46 MST Print View

Great article Chris! Nobody knows wet and cold like you do. Building igloos in Yellowstone til midnight must be a walk in the park for you, compared to walking in the Scottish highlands!


Kathleen B

Locale: Pacific Northwest
And a Buff would be.... on 12/11/2008 08:47:12 MST Print View

For those as clueless as me as to what a Buff is:

John Carter

Locale: Pacific Northwest
re: Wet, Cold hiking on 12/11/2008 11:44:30 MST Print View

I do what Chris does, using a single wall tent with bivy. I find it lighter and more versatile.

I would love to see a condensation comparison test performed at, using double-wall tents in group A and single wall+bivy tents in group B to compare differences in down loft degradation over time.

I can use a Shangri-La 3/Hex 3 and bivy for just over 2 lbs and have the same structural strength as many double walled tents, plus have MUCH more interior space. One could get much lighter with an MLD pyramid. But I would like to see the weaknesses of this system compared to double-walled tents.

Edited by jcarter1 on 12/11/2008 11:46:33 MST.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: re: Wet, Cold hiking on 12/11/2008 13:03:57 MST Print View

In bear country I find an umbrella to be invaluable for cooking under (not to mention they're nice for nature's call in the middle of the night, keeping sun off, etc...).

The only thing I do differently to Chris is typically kiwi. We tend to just wear shorts and knee-high gaitors, and when it gets really cold we put long johns on UNDER our shorts. It's an odd look for sure. We also tend to wear longer rain jackets, thus our legs are mostly protected from shoes to knees, and from head to mid thigh, allowing us to ditch the rain pants.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Gear Suited for Wet, Cold Weather Hiking on 12/11/2008 16:04:19 MST Print View

Thanks for all your comments and useful suggestions folks.

Joe, there was an article on my Norway/Sweden trek in TGO sometime in 1993 (I think!). Other than that I've never found a publisher interested in it. I'd be happy to answer any queries about the walk.

Bergen is a lovely city. I've been there many times. It does rain a great deal though!

David, only being 5'8" does give me a big advantage with the Akto. I probably wouldn't like it so much if I was six foot. I have used a Hex/Shangri-La 3 at times and I do like the extra room, especially in winter when I find the Akto a little small for 17 hour nights. I haven't used a bivi bag in the Hex/SL3 and have never had a damp sleeping bag. But I haven't used it on a two week trip. The bivi would add extra warmth but I'd rather have a warmer sleeping bag or clothing in cold weather. As a warm sleeper I find the Akto too warm when fully closed in summer even with an ultralight bag. Unless there are biting insects around I never close the Akto inner door.

Will, glad you liked the piece. Building igloos after midnight in nice dry cold weather is easier than a day in a Scottish storm!

Allison, hill runners wear long johns under shorts here but for some reason it's never really caught on with hikers. Long rain jackets are hard to find here - I often hear complaints from hikers who prefer them but for some reason companies don't make them anymore. A hip length jacket is now regarded as long.

Dondo .

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Buff on 12/11/2008 18:16:58 MST Print View

Einstein, I'm a big Buff fan from this side of the pond. Mine never gets left behind. The multi-use rivals that of a bandana. In addition to the many uses you mention, it also works well as an eye shade on those clear full-moon nights.

James Lantz
(jameslantz) - F

Locale: North Georgia
Gear list addition on 12/11/2008 19:19:27 MST Print View

Thanks for a great article. I find that an important item that should never be left off a cold & wet gear list is 2 oz of 16 YO Lagavulin in a lightweight Nalgene flask!;) It seems to make the experience much better while reading a good book & watching the showers race by;)

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
What about the T0 Ultra ? on 12/12/2008 02:52:18 MST Print View

Very informative, thank you very much.
We know that you like your Akto, but can we please have some comments about the Lightwave T0 Ultra ?
How come it isn't more popular ?
I somehow visualise it to be in-between the Laser Competition and the Akto as far as "storm-proofness" (?)
Your picture is the first one I have seen from the inside of it...

Richard Young
(RichardYoung) - F

Locale: South West of England
What about the T0 Ultra ? on 12/12/2008 03:25:02 MST Print View

If I could jump in here...

I have a T0 Trek, which is essentially a slightly heavier version of the Ultra.
I am just under 6ft and really like the extra room around the shoulders and head that the T0 gives me compared to the Akto when sitting up cooking, reading etc.
The porch is also very good and offers plenty of sheltered space for cooking and storing gear.
I have also found it quite sturdy in rain, strong winds and snow - not on a par with my Terra Nova Quasar, but what is!
The T0 also vents well in warmer weather.
The one improvement I would suggest is pegging points on the fly half way between the pole sleeves. This would stop the fly flapping quite as much in strong winds. This doesn't seem to affect the stability of the tent, it is more an issue of noise.
All in all I think the T0 Trek it is a very good tent for the weight and especially the money. I am amazed that more people don't rate it.

Over to you now Chris...

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: What about the T0 Ultra ? on 12/12/2008 03:45:46 MST Print View

Not owning one, I would to give my € 0.02 on LightWave. I find it interesting that they stick to the idea of inner-tent pitch first. In most situation I like to pitch outer first, so inner stays dry. However, a sales rep of LW gave me some good argument about why they still apply inner first. He said that with inner first you get a much tauter pitch of the inner tent, secondly the inner tents of LW are DWR treated and since pitching doesn't take more than a few moments it's really not a problem if the inner tent gets a few drop of rain on it. Also with the inner first system you can peel of the fly the next (dry) morning and let the inner dry out while doing morning chores.

Still I personally prefer outer pitch first (in rare cases when I do take a tent), but LW does make excelent designs on their tents.


Richard Young
(RichardYoung) - F

Locale: South West of England
Re: What about the T0 Ultra ? on 12/12/2008 04:59:19 MST Print View

Good point Eins

As all of my tents are inner pitch first I never really give it a thought. I just make sure I can get the outer on the tent in under a minute!

Specifically with the TO Trek the DWR coating seems to work - I've not had problems with water finding its way in to the inner despite pitching in very wet and windy conditions i.e. a typical UK day on the hill.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
T0 Ultra on 12/12/2008 06:43:55 MST Print View

Franco, I had the T0 Ultra on test for a few months and used it on some really stormy weather. It performed well for a tent of that weight. I agree with what Richard says but I'd add that being a tunnel tent it's best to pitch it with the rear into the wind in storms.

Lightwave are a small fairly new company which is why I think their tents (and packs) aren't better known. They are building up a good reputation in Britain.